An Inheritance of Stars

In the Hot Seat

Gnat sat at the pilots station, and absentmindedly watched the display readings. This late watch was always the most boring, with everyone asleep. Another 15 hours or so would bring them to New Haven and payment for their most recent job. She was still compiling the after action report for Ivan, but for the time being she wasn’t worrying about it. Same as she wasn’t worrying about their cargo, their own doctor seemed to think that it was important to question Drake and the man wouldn’t talk. Since the job was to recover Drake and they had done that, Gnat didn’t care much herself, but she didn’t figure she could fault the man for trying.

A soft knock at the door alerted her to company. Keying it open, she tuned to see the smiling face of Freddy Maglis, she couldn’t for the life of her understand how the “great and wise” Captain Ivan Korsogan had been duped into hiring the little con man as his chief of security. She smiled, “couldn’t sleep?”

Freddy held out a steaming cup of tea and smiled charmingly, “nope, but tea always helps me relax. Would you, like some?” He didn’t wait for an answer, but instead placed the mug in the recessed holder on her chair arm. “Any word on Gary?”

“Richard says he’ll be fine, most of his injuries looked worse than they actually were. What’s with Richard’s purple eyes?”

Freddy shrugged “I’m not sure, he said something about the people on his home world were into genetic screening at birth or something. The crazy part though was Hienrick; I mean, he not only brought a knife to a gunfight, but he won. We seem to have a crew with some special skills…” Freddy’s voice trailed off as he leaned towards Gnat, his eyes searching for signed of a spark between them. He almost breathed the words “how about you Ms Specter, what are you good at?”

Freddy’s eyes widened as she began to mimic his lean, he caught his breath as her hands pulled at his pants. In one swift action Gnat upended her mug of hut (but not scalding) tea down the front of his pants. As his eyes shot open wide she whispered “misdirection Mr Maglis, misdirection.”

Freddy muttered several hurried excuses and backed out of the bridge, ears burning as her laughter followed him from the room. She had tricked him like a common rube. Freddy made his way back to his room to change. As he walked his embarrassment faded…she had gotten the better of him yes, but that just made her a challenge, and her laughter hadn’t sounded mocking, more like she had been having fun. Maybe, just maybe….

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It Feels Like A Monday

Crashed prowler

Garry cursed loud and long. His words blistering forth through the cracked cockpit window of his prowler, his totaled prowler. He finished topping up the air in his flight suit, and re-sealed his helmet; he knew that he didn’t want to be breathing any of the air on Inequity. Between a full suit load and two replacement cartridges, he figured on having about 30 hours of air. From his flight computers last gasp of information, he figured he had about 25 hours of walking to the nearest agri-dome…he should be good as long as he didn’t slow down along the way.

Climbing out of his cockpit, and jumping to the swampy bank, he surveyed the wreckage of his ship. In hind-sight, he supposed he was luck to be alive. Both engine mounts were visibly cracked (and now filled with swamp sludge). The frame around his own seat was bent a good 3 centimeters, and the cockpit seal was shot. Now that he was outside he could see the source of his problem…his astromech droid had exploded, literally; there was a hole penetrating almost all the way through the back end of his craft. Garry shuddered to think of what could have happened. It was a miracle he had escaped with nothing more than light bruising. Unfortunately in this condition the scrap value of his Prowler likely wouldn’t cover the cost of dragging it out of the swamp.

Cursing again under his breath Garry gathered what few of his his belongings that had survived the deluge of exploded pickled-kiwis, and turned towards his destination. If he could make it to the agri-dome, he could likely get transportation to LAX. Now that he didnt have a ship, he needed this job more than ever. He didnt know anything about this Captain Ivan Korsogan fellow, but if he needed a shooter Garry was his man…at least until he could get a new ship.

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Time for a change

The Minnow limped slowly into the Kuat Drive Yards and made contact into its assigned repair dock. “This is OK, I’m for thinking 1 week, 2 tops, and she’s good as new.” forgetting that his arm was in a sling Ivan attempted to reach for the hatch release, and cursed when he moved the limb.

“That’ll teach you to hire the clients as crew for the ship. They would have hijacked the ship and spaced our body’s you know.” Gnat’s normally present grin wasn’t present. “We’ve got to get our own crew, people we can trust…at least enough not to mutiny on the first trip out.”

“I know” said Ivan taking a sip from his flask, and offering to Gnat. He took a second sip when she passed. “I’m for thinking, we need a couple big guys, with guns. Guys we can trust who can make sure our passengers don’t try to hijack us again.”

Gnat rubbed her split lip and nodded towards Ivan’s shoulder. “A medic as well. I don’t care if you don’t like doctors. if you have you’re own, you don’t have to do to the Med-Center every time you get busted up.” She waited for Ivan’s nod before continuing. “Another thing, you need a proper mechanic or engineer. Your stupid butler robot is for cleaning not repair, although I have to admit that it’s better at it than you. I found your distillery in the escape pod. Didn’t it occur to you that high temperatures and flammable liquids don’t mix…especially in our escape pod!”

Ivan escaped further tongue lashing by ducking down the cockpit hatch before it had fully opened. As he strode down the docking arm, he called over his shoulder “see to the repairs, I’ll be back soon. I have to see man about job. When you’re done, see if there’s any good postings on the MercNet. Don’t wait up.” Gnat’s audible curses made Ivan glad he had gotten some distance before making his last comment.

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Changing Careers?

Alyssia let her head droop tiredly into her hands, resting for a moment, she yawned and rubbed her eyes. It seemed like forever since her Uncle had come and torn them from their accustomed lives. Since their mother’s declaration of the competition, her life had been torn upside down. Knowing that Winterscale Intelligence would keep her so protected that she couldn’t breath, let alone really do anything, Alyssia had sold her ship (undoubtedly it was heavily monitored). From there things had gotten complicated.

When her passenger vessel was raided by pirates, Alyssia had been able to sneak over to the pirate vessel, and detach. She had abandoned two-thirds of the raiders, and then somehow convinced the remaining crew that she was a mercenary captain. Before she knew it she was commanding a heavily armed light transport. That was a month ago. Now she was commanding her vessel across the gap from Bastion towards Dolorium.

The thought of continuing her fakery, convincing 20 odd mercenary soldiers that she was some hard-ass captain, while she investigated some Republic pirates who raided Winterscales Realm. It was stupid to continue, but it didn’t make sense. Why travel weeks away from the gate network to raid in another sector of space. Most pirates wouldn’t have the fuel to waste on those kinds of distances, let alone the inclination to raid so far from home. Alyssia didn’t know what was going on, but she was determined to find out. It would only be a matter of days before she reached Dolorium, and from ther she would find answers.

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Right to Vote

Nonhuman rights

Planetary Governor Omar Nagino tore down the poster, and shredded it between his hands. “I can’t believe it! There’s more of this crap every day. They want more food rations; so I give them incentive programs to earn more. Not only do they complain about that, then they whine about alien rights. What a joke, there’s two alien ships in orbit right now; they’re contributing quite nicely to our economy.” Nagino paused for a moment and looked about. Spotting his son Larz, he raised his voice slightly. “Well what do you think boy? Soon you’re going to have to speak before the Orbital Council, and they’ll vote on if you should join us, or not.” His tone gave the grim image that a successful seat on the council might be somehow linked to keeping a place within the family.

Larz cleared his throat nervously. “There’s extra food tickets available through the work programs. Nobody gets anything free just for slacking like you always said.”

“Don’t pander to me boy. What about the aliens, do they deserve human rights? Don’t forget, tell me how we can profit off this” The gleam in the Governor’s eye contained more than a hint of greed.

Larz took a moment to think; this was an uncommon thing for him to do, however he was well aware the consequences of speaking without thought of profit or reward. “Well Sir, might we not delay the matter by holding a vote; a station…no an Orbital Wide vote” he did finger quotes around the word. "We set up some speakers or something, charge credits for admission and the privilege of voting as well. " He grinned slightly, but not so much that he would look the fool if he was completely wrong.

The Governor considered the idea for a moment, then smiled. “Boy, I’d never say it if it weren’t true, you’ve had, for the first time in your life, a good idea.” He tussled his son’s hair in a fatherly yet condescending fashion. “We’ll run the whole thing for profit, and the best part is that we’ll get everybody who votes to give us all kinds of registration information. Our own security forces will benefit greatly, and I’m sure we can find other uses as well.” He looked at his data slate and paused a moment for consideration, then turned to the aide walking at a respectful distance behind them. “Have my propaganda manager write a proclamation. On September 1st, send it to Planet and all the Orbital Cities; In order to decide the issue of Non-Human Rights, a referendum will be held in three months. On December 1st, all citizens of Inequity are called to give their voice, on this issue of great cultural importance.”

Waving the aide away, he turned and continued walking along the Burra City atrium. “By the way, what ever happened to that ship I bought you?”

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A New Man

Freddy woke in his tiny bunk and grinned a contented grin. He stretched, and then crawled out of the “bed” cubical in the wall. Though his sleeping conditions in the economy class of the passenger freighter were cramped, it was well worth finally being free of Winterscales Realm. Just yesterday they had left the Footfall station traveling into the People’s Republic of Foundling Worlds and freedom.

He had managed to charm and cheat his way into enough money to reach the hopefully poorly named False Hope. Until then he would review his options and plan. The vessel he rode was fast, it was why he had chosen it, they should arrive in just over a weeks time.

Freddy ate his tasteless breakfast in a large cafeteria surrounded by his “fellow” passengers, and looked about with distaste. Most of these people were traveling government workers, corporate representatives or pilgrims returning from traveling to see the Cauldron. Nobody was wealthy, famous, or interesting…At least that was until today. Freddy had-dent seen the stranger before, he must have boarded in Footfall. Freddy did his best to read the man as he aat his meal, and then rose and left with a quiet dignity. He thought to himself “This man could have potential. He moves as if he’s had at some training, and carries himself as if he’s suffered a recent upheaval in his life. If I”m careful how i approach him, I might just be able to find someone to help watch my back…" Freddy settled back into his chair, breakfast forgotten, with the right friends he could go far…and no man is an island, especially in the vast expanse.

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Confusion

Duel

Hienrick slipped into the shadows between two ceiling girders and paused to catch his breath. He was breathing hard and heavy, his mind whirling and concentration broken. Why did it happened? What was going on?…..How could he have killed his teacher, master, mentor, and most trusted friend? How could he have killed Lord Vindicare!

It had all started without warning; Lord Vindicare had summoned him for his scheduled training session. The room was dark when Hienrick entered, yet the darkness did not bother him. He moved confidently to the centre of the room, and took a meditative position; his master would begin the lesson in due time.

A sudden premonition caused Hienrick to throw himself flat onto the floor.; as he did, a blade cut through the air where his neck had been but a moment before. Rolling to the side, he gained his footing, though the room was still dark, he could sense movement directly ahead. Trusting to his body’s memory of the room, he dove to the left, and kicked off the nearby wall changing his direction abruptly. The sounds of knives impacting into the floor followed his movement and showed his instincts to have been correct. Without stopping to draw his own blade, Hienrick lunged towards his attacker. It was stupid to engage a swordsman in the dark, but speed was his only advantage. Twisting as he attacked Hienrick felt the edge of the blade separate his clothing, a mere breath away from flesh; he used the edge of his hand to move the sword arm out of his way, and aimed a lethal strike to his “assailant’s” throat. As expected, he didn’t connect; Hienrick grinned despite himself, his master was testing him hard tonight. This grin however didn’t last. As their movements continued, and the sting of an increasing number of cuts began to mount, Hienrick began to realize that this test was deadly earnest.

In a moment it was over. Almost before he had comprehended that this was no ordinary training session, his body acted from memory. He had drawn a sword from its rack on the wall, and guided his thrust along the side of his opponents blade, into his chest and through his heart; a classic one thrust kill.

As this opponent slid off the blade, the lights in the room came slowly up, as if programed to respond to the end of the fight. The blade fell from Lord Vindicare’s hand, and he sank to his knees. “This was the only way it could end, with the student surpassing the master.” As his slumped to the ground, his eyes never left Hienrick’s and his lips moved in a soundless whisper. Yet somehow Hienrick understood, “remember my teachings.”


Hienrick had made it to the station docks without being spotted. However he spotted an increased amount of covert security personnel and knew that the body had been discovered, and the hunt was on. He studied a traffic display from concealment, and could see that 2 ships were departing within the next 15 minutes, one to the Star Kingdom, and another to the Peoples Republic. Hienrick paused for a moment before pulling up the hood of a stolen cloak, and moved down the dock. He stopped by the entrance to the Star Kingdom’s passenger ship, and watched the remaining few people boarding. Striding forwards he cut through the line ignoring the angry muttering of the civilian he had bumped. Continuing onwards, he moved with purpose towards the Republic ship, he knew that he could easily get passage with the merchant vessel, he had seen the first mate carousing with some of the locals, it would be easy blackmail. Besides; the few drops of blood he had left on the ground in the docking line, and on the passenger he had bumped would send his pursuers the wrong direction…he had always wanted to visit the Foundling Worlds.

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Hitchiking for a living

Richard walked down the corridor of the Dolorium docking station. Before his arrival, he had managed to bum an old copy of “The Argylian Expanse for Dummies” from one of the crew members of the Jezzebel, but found it quite lacking in a lot of the detail he had wished. It only listed a fraction of the planets within the Argylian Expanse by anything more then name. Though it did at least have a fairly accurate map of the whole of known space, and some very short bios of who’s who in the modern world. A couple blurbs, or more like adds, also mentioned some of the leading corporations. Not much to go off of, when trying to get a handle of the new world. At least it had had some details on Dolorium, he had found the mention of the sentient Leviathans fascinating, and since he had nothing else to do, why not spend some time on Dolorium and see if he could catch a glimpse.

Unfortunately, the book had been quite right about how seldom they appeared to people. The book hadn’t even been very specific on how intelligent they where, just sentient. Actually, he had to wonder, what was the definition of sentience used nowdays? He’d tried asking around about the Leviathans once he was on Dolorium, but it seemed everyone had a different theory on them. He’d even tried getting a position in one of the research facilities, but signing into a five year contract with the corporations owning them did not sound tempting so soon after regaining his freedom.

In the end, all he had gained was a bit more current information on the galaxy, though still woefully short, a neat holographic display of a Leviathan, and a little bit of money from working for a low income clinic. More charity work then anything, but it was enough for food, and lodgings where volunteered by one of his co-workers.

But there was still so much to see, Richard couldn’t sit still here while nine thousand years of history lay out there. In the end he had found a cargo ship enrout to Somnium VIII, that was willing to take him on as ships medic for the short trip, with decent pay to boot. Once there… Look around, the booklet he had had been lacking any info on the planet, other then that it belonged to the Foundling Worlds. If it didn’t prove interesting, catch a ride over to Inequity. The booklet had mentioned its orbital cities, and they seemed to be a hub for traders passing through the area, so transport elsewhere should be simple to find.

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A pimp new ride

Ivan and Gnat walked across the massive docking bay of Burru City. The cold silence between them creating a tension which rippled across Ivan’s shoulders; he couldn’t stand it. “Look I won didn’t I. We needed a ship, and I got us one.” He took a flask from his pocket and took a swallow; grimacing slightly from the fire in his throat he added, “you’re not still mad are you…I mean I won right.”

Ivan fell back a step as she rounded on him. “Of course I’m mad you drunken ass.” Her back handed slap was powerful enough to knock his head around, and for a passing dock worker to take notice, and then hurry on. She continued in a fury; “don’t tell me I cant hit you cus you’re the captain,” the word was slightly colored with scorn. “you’re luck I don’t space you right now. If you hadn’t won…” Gnat’s anger momentary took her words away, and she strode forwards towards the bulk of the now visible ship they were walking towards.

“But I did win,” Ivan hurried his steps to keep up with her furious pace. “I did win, and we even got the keys to that rich brat’s ship…I mean our new ship.”

Gnat stopped again, and gave Ivan a steely glare. “That rich brat is the son of the Governer. He’s also known to be a twisted little troll who uses his father’s influence to make sure the law cant touch him.” Ivan opened his mouth to respond, then thought better and let her continue. “Finally, if you EVER gamble with my favor again, I’ll make sure that the name Ivan Korsogan becomes synonymous with horror for the next five generations.”

Ivan turned pale, and responded with a quiet “yes mam.” Before resuming his walk forward. This time his sip from his flask was to steady him rather than in celebration of having acquired a new ship.

The hatch hissed open at the recognition of its master key. Ivan said “I doubt he’ll have left any booby traps for us, but we’ll have to run a full systems check before take off to make sure he hasn’t screwed with the life support or something.”

Gnat climbed the ramp into the cockpit and looked at the red plush decor. “Its gona take some work to get this crap out of here…and we don’t have the money for a refit.”

“Don’t worry, it was his pleasure yacht and he only had 4 hours to clear out. There’s gotta be some stuff left here for us to sell.” Ivan palmed open the door from the 3 man bridge to the rest of the ship, and stopped as if poleaxed.

“What” asked Gnat as she noticed his face. “You’re blushing, I’ve never seen you do that…” her voice trailed off as she followed his gaze. The interior of the ship was lined with the same red plush, and it was filled extensively with machines, apparatus, and other items of an indescribable nature. Getting her voice back first Gnat couldn’t resist adding “well done on your acquisition of one luxury pleasure yacht. I’m sure if we look hard, we’ll find something of value we can sell…” The expression, and brightening blush on Ivan’sface, gazing at the ship’s name on a plaque above the door was the final straw, and Gnat broke out in laughter which didn’t stop for some time." Welcome to the Minnow.

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Opportunity Crashes

Richard staggered slightly as the corridor seemed to shift slightly under his feet. He frowned; it had only been 3 drinks, could he really be such a lightweight after his time in stasis? Still, he was steady enough now. Richard continued walking back towards his temporary quarters. He had been assigned them after leaving Doctor Dresdon and the sick bay. It had barley been a week of rehabilitative therapy and sleep learning before he was judged ready to work. Today he had been assigned his post, and met his new captain. Starting tomorrow at 0600 Richard’s new job would be as crew/medic on Salvage Tug 27.

Having been assigned his personal kit, survival suit, and medical supplies; Richard had then met his captain and crew. Not wanting to go out with an unknown man, there had been an informal crew dinner/party. Richard had kept his head, had only three drinks, and then begged off to pack and prepare before their early shift the next day.

Richard’s corridor came out into one of the open public areas and plant atrium scattered throughout the Station when the floor shifted again, this time in a definitive and disturbing wavelike undulation which threw him to the floor. Klaxons began going off in all directions as damaged wall panels, broken lights, and twisted structural supports fell around the atrium. As the shaking stopped the alarms cut off, a voice then projected across the Station. “Impact Alert, We’ve been struck by a large fragment of loose debris. Shields are currently down, and the Station has sustained structural damage. All personnel report to your emergency stations. I repeat, we have sustained structural damage, all personnel report to your emergency stations.” The message continued to replete itself, so Richard tuned it out and looked about to asses the situation.

Lights flickered throughout the atrium. Support beams hung from the walls and ceiling like broken bones protruding from wounds, and the stench of fried electronics hung heavily in the air. Several bodies were sprawled unnaturally across the ground, or crushed beneth debris, and dozens of people clutched minor injuries and wailed in pain and shock. Others were tending to the wounded, or leaving through the partially closed bulkhead door. Richard spotted one man, hurt badly and trapped under a support beam; he raced over just as the man passed out from his injuries.

Working quickly Richard assessed the damage; it was bad but not impossible. Definitely several broken ribs, maybe a punctured lung, and likely internal bleeding as well. The left arm was also broken, but like the scalp wound and other lacerations he considered this minor. Most concerning for patient survival though was the large beam pinning his chest to the floor. Little could be done with it in place, and it didn’t look stable either. Richard looked about, nobody was nearby and he could see the pile shift very slightly. He just needed to make it go the right direction with enough support that it wouldn’t crush the patient. Richard cast his eyes desperately about, he wasn’t strong enough to support that weight; his eye stopped on an open emergency storage locker. Moving quickly he reached in and grabbed a Bod-Pod; made as a short term, inflatable, one-man life-raft with an emergency beacon, the Bod-Pod would inflate, and should be strong enough to support the extra weight. Richard sealed shut the pod from the outside, and placed it next to the unconscious man. He hit the emergency inflate button, and rather than stepping back, he leaned forward to push on the girder. With his strength, and the added force of the rapidly inflating pod, the heavy beam lifted up slightly and shifted almost a meter to the side before crashing down with a resounding bang. Not taking any time to celebrate, Richard grabbed his newly assigned med-kid, sighed in relief that it wasn’t damaged, and got to work on his patient.

Time seemed to blur for a time. He worked without aid or assistance for what felt like and eternity before Doctor Dresdon and a medical team arrived to help. They quickly spelled off Richard, and get the body moving towards the med lab. Dresdon clapped Richard across the shoulders and said, “well done boy. I doubt he would have survived without you, and that was some delicate work you did there without any backup. You’re a good Doctor lad. Now, are you hurt? No; well then get yourself back to your bunk and get some rest. It’ll be lots more before this is delt with, but you’re not assisted to any damage crew.” He nodded conspiratorially and gave Richard a gentle shove towards his quarters.

It was 0400 when Richard was woken by his door chime. “Yes” he called out groggily.

“The anonymous voice on the other side of the door answered “you’re requested in med lab sir. Right away.”

Richard pulled himself upright, looked down and realized he was still dressed. He shrugged to himself and opened the door. The harried looking clerk started slightly at how quickly the door opened, but turned without a sound to lead him to med lab.

When Richard entered, he was directed to a private room where he found his patient, heavily bandaged but awake and sitting up. “Do you know who I am?” asked the man.

Richard was about to say no, but then he thought about it. “We’ve never met or seen each other..Sir, but I believe you are Tyberious Rex, the owner of the ”/campaign/51182/wikis/breaking-yards-of-sr-651" class=“wiki-page-link”> Company.

“Smart boy. They tell me that you saved my life.”

He seemed to want a reply, so Richard answered. “Truthfully Sir, I just did what I’m trained for. I honestly didn’t recognize you, I was just helping where I could.”

“Your honesty and humility are good. I wonder if you would have done the same if you had know it was me?” He paused a moment and then answered himself “I suppose you might have. HAH” He laughed once, and then grimaced in pain from his broken ribs. “Well young doctor, you not only saved my life, but you did it without thought, and in personal danger as well. For that should offer you some kind of reward. Tell me son, without being greedy” his eyes glinted either from cunning or from painkillers, “what kind of reward would you like?” As he finished saying this, a clerk entered the room and took up position by the door.

Richard thought a moment. “Well Sir, it seems to me that you’re a man who understands and knows value. I would hazard to say that the life of the head of the entire company is worth more than that of one flight medic. Would it be possible see my financial obligation cleared?”

The clerk cleared his throat. “Sir he is correct. His current financial debt is only 66,250 credits, an honest request for a reward.”

Tyberious looked slightly annoyed for a moment and stared at the clerk. He then responded to Richard. “Not greedy, but clever. Very well, I grant you full release from your debt to me. I will even make an addition to the offer; since I can use clever employees, I’ll hire you on with a raise and 2 years complimentary Station fees, or I’ll cover the cost of your passage on the first ship through.”

Richard very politely gave the matter some thought. The replied, “Sir that’s a very generous offer. But as you may know, I’ve recently woken up from a somewhat prolonged cryo-sleep. I would very much like to see the Galaxy, and learn what has changed while I’ve been gone. It is possible I will return back this direction, and if you’re offer is still open, I would happily consider a contract of employment.”

“Very well.” Said Tyberious. “Clerk, see to it that Mr. Marwood here has full paid passage on the next ship heading off Station. Now get out of here both of you and let me rest.”

Richard quietly said thank-you, and left the room. He concealed his smile until be was back in his own quarters. Not only was his debt clear, he had transport out of here. He gathered his merge belongings quickly, and headed towards the docks, he hoped that they hadn’t sustained any damage, as he wanted to be gone before he could incur any more fees.

Fortunately the docks were intact, and since business must go on, operating. By 0630 Richard had a berth on an Ore-Freighter named Jezabelle and in 10 days should be arriving on Dolorium.

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